Erica Wright–known as Erykah Badu in this life–is the big sister I always wanted.
I was in high school when I heard the song On & On. I heard it on the radio station MAJIC 108, and was mesmerized. After that, I wanted to hear everything these that Erykah Badu did. And I mean everything! To this date, I still love Baduism. It’s a staple. Get hip, kids. Get hip.
This month, I found out that Erykah Badu (Erica Wright) turned 50. Now, for context, I will be 40 in June. This means that Erykah is 10 years older than I am. With that in perspective, I did a little math. I have been listening to Erykah Badu for 20-some years! It doesn’t feel like it should be that long! How did Erykah get to be 50?! When did this happen?! How did I get to be 40?!
As an artistic Black girl trying to figure out where I was in the world, Erykah was herself! She was beautiful, talented, dynamic and unapologetically about all of it! I loved Erykah the same way I love Billie Holiday. There is life in her voice. You can hear exactly what she has gone through, is going through, so you can see exactly what she needs you to see. This is the power of art of being an artist, being committed to exactly who you want to be. It was because of Erykah that I really got into headwraps, jewelry, and was proud of my Alto range and the raspy texture of my voice. Erykah made me unapologetic about being an awkward Black girl.
“Time, to save the world, where in the world is all the time?”Eyrkah Badu, Didn’t Cha Know, Mama’s Gun
She is eccentric, talented, and completely at home in herself. What woman doesn’t want that? The ability to be the she was destined to be, and let the world wonder about all of it. I am from the generation that still remember cleaning up my mother’s house to MoTown. My kids already know who Nas and Erykah are when I break out bleach, Ammonia and this laundry detergent! Besides, you can mop better to Honey anyway.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ERYKAH!
[image from Black Enterprise magazine.]